Gerard makes peace with the past.
Monica smiled, “Paul, I’m not bored. Lord knows you have been listening to me tell you about the drama in my life. I’m more than happy to return the favor. It just saddens me that she won’t let you have custody of Gilly.”
He sighed, “Many times I have considered going back to court to try to get full custody of her. But I know how much it would hurt Gilly to hear the truth about her mother. I just can’t do that to her.”
“I understand.” Monica said softly.
“But there are times I worry about leaving Gilly in Emma’s care. A few months ago I found out she left Gilly alone for two weeks while she traveled to another state to vacation with a man she had met on the Internet.”
“Why didn’t she leave Gilly with you?”
Paul shook his head. “I’m sure she didn’t want me to know. Gilly let is slip that she was gone.”
They sat in silence each lost in thought. Paul was the first to speak. “I’m sorry Monica. You have enough going on in your life without me dumping my problems on you.”
Monica smiled, “Hey, that’s what friends are for. I know it helps to have someone listen.”
He nodded, “Yes, it does. So I am assuming he still hasn’t called?”
“No. I haven’t heard from Gerard. I’m beginning to think that I won’t.”
Paul took a sip of tea and sat back in his chair. They were almost finished with their lunch but he didn’t want to go back to the office just yet. His next patient wasn’t scheduled for another hour. “Have you considered calling him?”
Monica shook her head, “I can’t.”
“Can’t or won’t?”
“I won’t call him.” Monica clarified. “He broke our engagement.” Her voice trailed off.
“And your heart.” Paul said reaching out to touch her hand.
Tears sprang to her eyes. “Yeah, and my heart.”
Paul understood the feeling all too well. “Hey, let’s go for a walk. It’s a beautiful day and I think the fresh air and sunshine is just what both of us need.”
“But my lunch hour is almost over.” Monica worried.
“It’s okay. You work for a very understanding guy.” Paul signaled to the waitress.
They walked out into the sunshine each hoping Paul’s prescription would help the sorrow they held in their hearts.
He took a deep breath then read the tombstone. Seeing Liv’s name etched in the stone suddenly made the loss more real, it made it hurt more deeply then he had ever believed possible. Quickly he averted his eyes and bent down to place the roses at the base of the headstone.
Standing back up he closed his eyes and poured out his heart. “Liv, I’m so sorry I failed you. I was such a fool. You were so young.” His voice shook with emotion. “ I should have realized but I didn’t. I understand now where you came from and why you acted the way you did. Your soul was wounded and I should have seen that but I was too blind. I loved you Liv I just didn’t know how to love you like you needed.” He paused before continuing to speak from his heart. “I’m so fucking sorry that last day I didn’t talk to you, it was my last chance.” Tears sprang to his eyes. “But I want you to know that Elle is my daughter. I will always treasure her as a gift from you.” He became lost in the memories, “I realize now that you knew you were pregnant the night before you left me. You left me because you loved me. You left me because you never wanted me to feel this pain. That night I thought I heard you say you loved me but would never let myself believe.” His voice broke. “Now I believe.”
A gently warm breeze dried his tears. “I promise you Liv, I will always love Elle. I will make sure she has the kind of life you could only dream of. Nothing bad will ever happen to her as long as I have breath in my body.” He forced himself to speak the words. “I know you wanted Monica to be Elle’s mother. You could see the love she has for Elle. No matter what happens Monica will be her mother. I will not take her away from Monica.” He bowed his head, “And I will make sure that Elle always remembers how much you loved her and…” His voice was a mere whisperer on the wind. “I will tell her how much I loved you.”
Bert leaned against the car and watched Gerard standing with his head bowed at Liv’s grave. He had come here to make sure Liv understood he would never forget her. It has been a shock to see Gerard. Even from this distance he could see the pain on his friend’s face. It caused him to look away.
A short time later Gerard turned from Liv’s grave and made his way back towards his car. He was shocked to see Bert waiting for him.
“Hey, Man.” Bert said as he neared.
Gerard quickly wiped the remaining moisture from his eyes, “Hey.”
“Come to pay your respects to Livie?” Bert asked.
“Yeah, I did.” Gerard leaned against the car next to him and pulled out his pack of cigarettes. “You here for the same reason?”
Bert nodded, “I’m getting ready to leave for California. I wanted to come by and let her know she’s still in my thoughts. She’ll always be in my thoughts.”
Gerard understood. “You really loved her.”
“More then I could ever say.” Bert admitted. “I was glad I told her at the end.”
His words brought fresh pain to Gerard. “I missed my last chance to talk to her.”
Bert shook his head, “You and Livie had made peace. That last time she asked to talk to you…she was in so much pain. You wouldn’t have wanted to remember her like that.”
“I was such a fucking fool.” Gerard said. “I was only thinking about myself.”
“You were hurting. Finding out about her and Mikey. Fuck that had to be brutal.”
Gerard exhaled, “And yet when I think about all she told me I know why she did it. She just didn’t want me to love her.”
“She didn’t want you to love her because she loved you so much. She thought she was poison to you and in a way she was. Livie understood she could never be the woman you needed. She was too damaged.”
Gerard turned to him, “Why the fuck didn’t we realize how young she was? Were we that stupid?”
A humorless laugh escaped Bert’s lips, “Fuck yeah we were. We were fucking lost in the drugs and the booze.”
“That’s no excuse.” Gerard said angrily.
Bert shrugged, “Not an excuse just how it was. She was living an empty existence, feeling nothing was how she got by day to day until she met you. She fell in love with you and that was something she had promised herself she would never do.”
Gerard stared at the ground. “I failed her.”
He was startled when Bert put his hand on his shoulder, “No, she failed herself. She couldn’t let go of the past. She wouldn’t let herself and it killed her soul.”
For a long time they simply stood next to each other lost in the memories. Gerard broke the silence, “I gotta go. Take care of yourself.”
“What about Monica?” Bert had to ask.
“I’ve failed her too.” Gerard whispered.
Bert shook his head, “But it’s not too late. You can change things.”
Gerard looked back towards Liv’s grave. “I hope with all my fucking heart you are right. I just don’t know if she can forgive me.”
“I saw her yesterday.” Bert said quietly.
“You saw her?” Gerard asked. “Where?”
Bert lit another cigarette, “At your house. I went by there looking for you and she was just coming out the front door.”
“What did she say? Why was she there?” Gerard’s mind was racing.
“She’s hurt because she doesn’t believe you understand why she kept Liv’s secret.”
“But I do understand.” Gerard said in desperation.
Bert tried to explain, “Look all she knows is that she tried to keep all of the pain from touching you but in return you turned your back on her.”
Gerard knew his words were true. “I fucked up.”
“Yeah, you did, big time.” Bert felt he had to tell him the truth even though it was brutal to hear. “You hurt a woman who loves you will all her heart and because she believed in you so much she can’t understand it.”
“What do I do?” Gerard whispered.
Bert moved to stand directly in front of him. “Tell her your sorry. Tell her you love her. Make her believe again.”
“But what if I can’t” Gerard asked.
Without missing a beat Bert smiled and told him, “The love you two have for each other is still there. It’s buried in hurt. Dig it out.”
Gerard thought a moment and asked, “Bert, when you found out about us why didn’t you go to her? I was sure you’d have gone to Monica knowing she was hurting.”
Bert decided to tell him the truth, “I wanted to. Not gonna lie, you gotta know how special I think she is. You are one lucky son of a bitch to have her. But I figured you needed me more. When I heard you two had broken up I knew there could be only one thing that would have pushed you over the edge like this.” He looked away, “You’re my best friend, Gee. I wanted to help you get your shit together so you could get her back in your life.”
Gerard surprised him by moving to hug him. “Thanks.” He pulled open his car door and drove away. He glanced in the rear view mirror and saw Bert walking away from his car towards Liv’s grave.